Contact: Alan Klestadt @ (212) 973-7722                               For Immediate Release

Tom Mathers @ (202) 466-0222

 

NCBFAA Seeks Modification of Broker Confidentiality Rules

 

Washington, DC: In a letter to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NBCFAA) has asked CBP to revoke or modify a number of long-standing interpretative rulings that it believes have created an overly strict confidentiality standard. The NCBFAA has requested that CBP adopt a standard that requires brokers to maintain the confidentiality of an importer’s “proprietary business information” which is generally defined as information which could harm the importer’s competitive position if disclosed.

The Association also seeks to confirm that the confidentiality requirement does not extend to information that would otherwise be publicly available. Further, the NCBFAA would like to create an exception to the confidentiality requirement that permits a broker to share information with an attorney or liability carrier in situations where the broker is forced to defend itself against a claim from the importer.

A number of CBP rulings, issued over the last decade, have interpreted the provisions of 19 CFR 111.24 to preclude brokers from disclosing the most basic client information to any third party (including affiliated businesses) without first obtaining a confidentiality waiver from the client. This interpretation fails to consider that there are numerous situations where the broker is required to share this information with a third party to facilitate the client’s transactions. Furthermore, CBP has maintained this position despite the proliferation of data mining services and the fact that other parties in the supply chain are not subject to any restriction on the disclosure of same client information.

CBP has preliminarily expressed a willingness to consider the NCBFAA proposal. In the event that CBP agrees to modify or revoke the rulings at issue, notice will be published in the Customs Bulletin and interested parties will have an opportunity to file comments.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents more than 850 member companies with 100,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.

 

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